U.S. trade deficit rises to 12-year high $679 billion

The U.S. trade deficit rose 18% last year to $679 billion, highest since 2008, as the coronavirus disrupted global commerce and confounded President Donald Trump’s attempts to rebalance America’s trade with the rest of the world

The gap between the value of the goods and services the United States sells abroad and what it buys climbed from $577 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said Friday. Exports skidded 15.7% to $2.1 trillion, and imports fell 9.5% to $2.8 trillion.

Still, the U.S. ran a $237 billion surplus last year in services. But that was overwhelmed by a $916 billion deficit in trade in goods such as aircraft and auto parts.

The politically sensitive deficit with China in the sale of goods fell 10% last year to $311 billion; Trump had imposed tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports to protest Beijing’s sharp-elbowed efforts to supplant Western dominance in technology, an effort that U.S. alleged included cybertheft.

In the December, the trade deficit dropped to $66.6 billion, down 3.5% from November. Exports rose 3.4%, and imports increased 1.5%.